News Headlines     |     


CRANS MONTANA FROM THE UP, DOWN - Katie Bamber, Crans Montana, Switzerland
Wednesday January 30, 2019 - Email this article to a friend

PlanetSKI goes back to an old Swiss ski favourite to check it out: alpine skiing, ski touring & what's new for this winter.

In all the ski resorts in all the mountain ranges, accessing this ski resort of Switzerland by Swiss train is definitely up there as one of the best entrances.

Along with huski dog in Norway, or helicopter in Bariloche.

Train station chatter is often about how precisely they run and how perfectly your switches are organised.

But it's more than that.

Geneva to Sierre, along a stretch of Lac Léman, you pass castles, see the Alps Jura break, spot known ski areas sitting on the dramatic (we hope) snow line, and travel through wild countryside and landscapes, pictures of which have spread worldwide to represent Switzerland.

Each time I do it find it more special, and learn another landmark.

Chillon Castle, this time, which sits by the shore in Lake Geneva.

This site has been occupied since the Bronze Age.

The rocky island on which the castle is built, was both a natural protection and a strategic location to control the passage between northern and southern Europe.

Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley in 1816 were sailing on the lake and visitied the Château de Chillon.

The dungeon, imprisoning Bonivard centuries ago, was the inspiration of Byron's The Sonnet of Chillon.

Chateau de ChillonChateau de Chillon

On to Sierre, where you walk through the town 150m to the funicular to bring you in the swiftest and prettiest way up to Crans Montana, through the vineyards into the thickening snow up to the Montana Gare.

So Crans and Montana are separate villages, as is Barzettes and Aminona further along the rue.

All together make up Crans Montana ski area, and all but Aminona have gondolas up to the slopes (which did until recently - more on this later).

Most of the skiing in Crans Montana is on the south facing slopes - great for January skiing when it's cold, sub zero cold, so skiing in the sun and looking south towards everything good you could imagine in the Alps.

You look over to the 4 Vallees and Zinal, you can see Mont Blanc as well as the Matterhorn and Les Dents du Midi, and many more besides.

Cross valley viewsCross valley views

Crans MontanaCrans Montana

Intro over...

Apologies for those that know it.

Yours truly in Crans-MontanaHere I am in Crans-Montana

Why from the up, down?

Well I take to alpine skis on one very, very fine day in CM to ski the area from the top to the bottom.

It's before I take to touring, and exploring some of the resorts new, marked touring routes from the bottom to as high as I can make it.

What did I make of it?

Despite the pistes facing south, making you assume they're the up-down straight ski slopes you find, the skiing is actually pretty interesting.

It's more natural, with twists and turns, rolls and trees to navigate.

How skiing should be out in the wild mountains.

I say this as I managed to get lost attempting to do ski top to bottom the women's FIS downhill run.

There are necks in the pistes, you have to swoop round the back of peaks and properly explore the area to get bearings.

Jagged rocks and cliffs add to the dramatic landscape, and trees make for fun off piste as well as good visibility.

Crans MontanaCrans Montana

Crans MontanaCrans Montana

And some video views:

The snow is insanely good, with a fresh 30cm the day before last and a dusting overnight, the temperature sticking around -8C keeping it pristine.

So, you can't really see where the pistes run when you're on the mountain, unless you're down in Montana which is a good beginner spot, or by the Crans gondola top station.

The trees and turns and rocks and hills obscure any traffic, though mid-week there is none.

What you can see, which is wonderful, is in the distance spotted through a space in the rocks a pair of snowboarders making their way down some off piste making fresh lines.

Or a crew of skiers traversing to get theirs in another direction.

The easily accessed off piste is great, steep enough and safe for many to enjoy.

The touring opportunities, obviously endless, but very good-looking in this ski area.

I'm exploring this tomorrow.


Crans MontanaCrans Montana

Crans MontanaMont Blanc magic

I've forgotten to mention the freestyle in Crans Montana.

Not the first thing you think of here in a reasonably old fashioned, up market resort?

Well here is one of the parks, and halfpipe skier Robin Briguet who competed in the PyeongChang Winter Games:

Park n viewsPark n views

Robin BriguetRobin Briguet

More tomorrow from the down, up as I go gets myself even more at one with nature and find the forests and farther out sections of Crans Resorts.

Following a couple of the 15 ski touring routes and hopefully making it from Aminona to Petit Mont Bonvin... watch this space.

For the Spirit of the Mountains - PlanetSKI: Number One for ski news

Related Articles

AUTUMN IN THE ALPS AND BEYOND (Thursday October 17, 2019)
OCTOBER SKIING SECRETS (Thursday October 17, 2019)
IT'S TEMPLE TIME IN JAPAN (Monday October 14, 2019)

With thanks to our main sponsors...

Platinum partners

Bronze partners